Brands have much work to do in changing how women are portrayed in ads but Diageo is addressing the issue in a systematic manner which allows brands like Royal Challenge to overcome unconscious bias.

Julie Bramham, chief marketing officer of Diageo India, addressed this topic at the recent Spikes Asia conference where she observed that, for all the industry discussion about gender stereotypes over the last few years, little has actually changed.

“The real danger is, we may not even realise we are falling into the stereotypes,” she said. “We think we are avoiding stereotypes. There’s a real disconnect between how we think we are doing and what the consumer is experiencing.”

Accordingly, Diageo has developed a framework – around representation, perspective and characterisation – that aims to tackle the problem at every level. (For more details, read WARC’s report: Diageo’s three-pronged framework for eliminating gender stereotypes in advertising.)

The 2019 campaign for whisky brand Royal Challenge, for example, addresses the need to level the playing field for women in the male-dominated world of cricket through a mixed gender match – “pretty disruptive for India”, Bramham noted.

“The women featured are real cricketers. They are world-class, play for the Indian national team and are a huge success in their own field,” she said.

“They are demanding equal status to men’s cricket. Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, is also featured in the film, but he is not at the centre of the narrative. He is there to encourage and to support.”

The perspective, then, is all about the women’s view of the world and the product.

That stands in contrast to a 2016 effort for Baileys which dramatised the taste experience in an interesting and engaging way but did so with a stereotypical set of beautiful women who were “presented as metaphors for our product” and, literally, to be consumed. “This is definitely a perspective we see as being male,” said Bramham.

“The guidelines on perspective are pretty simple when you think about it,” she added, “but you do have to deliberately think about it,

“It really helps to consult the people whose perspective you want to show. Speak to everyday women or approach experts.”

Sourced from WARC